Monday, September 26, 2011

Bhatkal's alluring charm

A few weeks ago, I was in that most beautiful of regions, coastal Karnataka. WHAT a sight for sore eyes: mountains partially veiled by mists, vistas of various shades of green, and the almost-constant pitter-patter of life-giving rain. Shah Jahan had it wrong. If there is a heaven on earth, it is here, it is here, it is definitely here.

We were in Bhatkal, a quiet and charming little town full of beautiful old houses and handsome men and women. Yet who would have thought that five hundred years ago, this same town bustled with activity, being the mighty Vijayanagar Empire's principal port city?? Those were the good times for Bhatkal - business boomed, the economy flourished and money accumulated. Prosperity manifested itself in many ways. A number of large and grand temples and palaces were built in the town, most of them with donations from successful businessmen. The palaces are long gone but a few of the temples still survive. In fact, the very picturesque area of Mudbhatkal, a suburb about 2 km away from the main town, has a clutch of about 6 old temples, all situated in picture-postcard types of settings amidst paddy fields and coconut palms. Some like the Khetapai Narayana temple are fairly well-preserved, others like the Adikenarayana temple, are little more than partial walls and a roof. All are definitely worth a visit, especially the Adikenarayana and the Lakkar Kamti.

The only way to get to this last temple was by walking through the fields. It was quite an enchanting sight, a lone brown shrine marooned in a sea of waving paddy fields. I had assumed the temple was abandoned. Perhaps that is why I found a certain poignancy to the simple garland of white flowers draped around one of the idols. The temple might have been isolated but someone still took the trouble to adorn the idol everyday.

You can read a little more about Bhatkal and its temples in this article which appeared in Deccan Herald a few weeks ago.


ranjani.sathish said...

Enjoyed this write up as much as the article in the newspaper !

Meera said...

Thanks Ranjani!

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